Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Fat Inspectors

Last week we had a workman in to check the boiler. Now we all know workmen come in different shapes and sizes, hues and natures: This one, Keith, was quite lovely. He actually finished his work and chatted to me for ten minutes over a cup of tea. Now someone chatting for five minutes is a big thing for a person my age, rattling around in an empty house, where all the actually functioning folk have gone to school or offices.
   He talked about his mother-in-law whom he quite likes. 'Can't live with my own Mum,' he says, smiling.. 'Me wife's Mum is OK.'
   'Me and my missus, we came back from Spain to look after her - she had a heart attack. But she's alright now.'
   'Is she fat?' I ask hopefully. Anyone fatter than me is my friend; we are a family of fat men and women. 'Good heavens,' he laughs. 'She's huge - a walking cube.' He spreads his long arms wide to show her size. 'Not that she does much walking.'
   Keith is still smiling fondly. 'She is eighty-two. Goes through two pats of butter a week,' he adds. 'And huge amounts of potatoes and red meat. I've got mashed potato coming out of my ears; we've got to cook it every day.'
   'So who cooks?' I ask. I am the chief cook and bottle-washer in our house.
   'Me and my wife,' he answers.
   I am a little jealous. If I ate two blocks of butter a week, I'll be dead in a month.  And I can't see my children cooking for me on a regular basis either.
Or ... Maybe, it won't be dead-in-a-month ??? Is this a big hoax on us fat people? Are we being hoodwinked by the people who manufacture spreads, which are supposed to be harmless? And all the other industries that benefit from our neuroses?
   I remember the good old days when I returned home to Thalassery from yet another godforsaken bush-town in Africa, where staunch Indian that I was, I had gone to earn a little hard currency. After all, Kerala's main export is educated people.
   'You look good,' they said. 'You have improved.' Translated, that meant I had put on weight and was looking healthy and prosperous. Clearly, my husband was feeding me well and he was not beating me up. This was considered excellent.
   Now India has caught up with the West. I walk through the door and each household has a good top-to-toe look at my rotund self. 'So much weight,' they say. And I smolder inside. 'Are there no freedoms left anymore? And when they look at me - my beloved uncles and cousins, is that all they see? My weight and nothing else? Inside my head, I scream. ''I come because I love you all, want to see you, laugh together...'
   And where do the fat-inspectors come from who condemn so many girls here in the UK to Anorexia and Bulimia and such like? Even princesses.
   If the world was meant to be all one weight, we would have been created that way. It is good to have fat and thin, tall and short, pretty and not-so-pretty. I want all of us to stop being aspirational in this department and be happy the way we are. Only giving in, in moderation, to health considerations and not the promptings of the fashion gurus.
   In any case, I wonder, apart from the heath reasons, what is wrong with being a little fat? Or a lot? Rock on fat people. I am with you.

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